It's hard to think of a subject area more littered with acronyms than video, which covers the gamut from ATSC and AVC to WM9 and YUV.
Of course, not every acronym--or the technology behind it--gets used or thought about much in the course of one's daily work. But while some never get traction, eventually fading away, others seem to make the leap suddenly from the back burner, popping up everywhere. And so it is currently with IPTV, which stands for Internet Protocol Television.
The concept of delivering video over the Internet has been around for ages (measured in techno-years), but suddenly IPTV is a hot buzzword. So the time is ripe to start keeping a closer eye on IPTV, beginning with a few simple questions. What does the term really mean? Is there really something going on beyond the hype? And is IPTV of real significance to professionals on the content creation side of video, or is it strictly a downstream delivery issue of concern to cable companies and telcos?
Microsoft TV's platform for IPTV is focused on a delivery system managed end-to-end by cable and telco operators to provide the same quality of service as pay-TV services.
Much of the recent hubbub over IPTV stems from initiatives announced in 2003 by Microsoft, which committed its Microsoft TV division to the development of solutions facilitating the involvement of cable and telco (phone) companies in the delivery of television programming. No surprise, then, that Microsoft's definition of IPTV reflects the interests of potential customers in this "provider" market.
"IPTV enables content providers to deliver their content in new ways, to new devices, and using different business models than are available in traditional broadcast TV systems," says Ed Graczyk, Microsoft TV's director of marketing and communications. "But it's not about enabling TV over the open Internet. It's about delivering TV services over a secure, multichannel delivery system that is managed end-to-end by the operator and with the same quality of service you'd expect from any pay-TV service."
To illustrate his point, Graczyk compares Web-based streaming video to Microsoft's IPTV model, which has been scheduled for field trials by the telco SBC Communications in mid-2005. "The content comes into an SBC head end, and from that point to the TV in the home, it runs across SBC's own managed network so they c